Swiss skier Michael von Grünigen has insisted that his victory in Sunday's World Cup giant slalom race in Val d'Isère was fully deserved, despite the controversial disqualification of Austrian superstar Hermann Maier.
Maier, who has dominated the world of men's skiing for the last two seasons, was barred from Sunday's race for exceeding the time limit imposed for the pre-race piste inspection. The Austrian later complained that he had not been given any warning.
But von Grünigen, the man who benefited most from Maier's exclusion, insisted he had no qualms about the nature of his triumph.
"Certainly I would have rather won the race with Maier taking part," he admitted. "But really it's not a factor. It's Hermann's own fault that he was disqualified."
Maier's misfortune evoked memories of a world cup race in the same resort three years ago, when the Austrian was disqualified after the event. First place on that occasion also went to von Grünigen.
Recalling that controversy the Swiss skier said on Sunday that he was just happy that Maier's latest disqualification had been handed down before the race and not afterwards.
Despite Maier's disqualification, von Grünigen had to produce a terrific performance in his second run to snatch victory from another Austrian, Heinz Schilchegger. After making a mistake on his first run, which left him almost a third of a second behind Schilchegger, the Swiss veteran admitted that he had virtually given up any hope of winning.
But win he did, to maintain a fantastic start to the season. Having won two events already, and taken two fourth-placed finishes, Von Grünigen now leads the giant slalom standings, with a 40-point gap over Maier.
swissinfo with agencies